What to do in Lapland | Part 1 | Where to stay, National Parks, Snowmobiling, Saunas
Anyone that knows me knows I have a real soft spot for cold, snowy and wintry holidays. To be honest I think they give me even more feelings than the sunny ones! Don’t get me wrong, sun, sand and general summer exploring is amazing throughout summer, but pretty much the entire rest of the year I just want to be cosy and surrounded in snow! When the weather takes a turn for the worst, there’s nothing I’d rather do than be in a cabin, cosied up by a real fire whilst there’s a blizzard outside. Snowy walks and adventures are a bit of me!
I feel like Lapland is such an amazing place to visit for a whole variety of reasons. I reckon a lot of people choose not to go due to thinking it’s a kids holiday – it is Santa’s home after all. Whilst this actually gives me even more reason to go as I just think that is the cutest, there’s still so many hundreds of things to do, and adventures to have even if you don’t want to immerse yourself in the Santa side. Although I would definitely, happily go and meet Mr Clause (oh hello handsome,) my trip here was spent meeting huskies, adventuring national parks, snowmobiling, seeing frozen lakes, snowy walks and saunas. There’s just so much to do here, and I wanted to write it all up to inspire your trip to Lapland!
I visited Lapland with my dad after a bit of reshuffle with family plans, and we just had the most chilled, magical time. I would love to go back with him, with my boyfriend, with friends and other family – to be honest there’s so much you could do with anyone! We visited for five days at the beginning of December, and actually this was a great amount of time here! We could have definitely filled a few more days, I’d say a week would be an idealistic amount of time to spend here, but if you could only go for a short amount of time you’d still have the break of a lifetime.
We stayed in the most stunning cabin, which – as most Lapland accommodation does – featured a private sauna, a log burner, and the biggest, most luxurious space. Honestly we never wanted to leave – it was the definition of Christmas cosiness! This was called Holiday Village Gulo Gulo – which sounds so touristy on paper doesn’t it? But take a look at those pictures and tell me it’s not the best place you’ve seen! It’s a decent drive away from the airport you’ll land in at Rovaniemi in Lapland – it took about an hour but as we hired a car we managed to stop at a supermarket and hugely stock up to fill our cabin’s kitchen. This holiday place is a collection of 20 or so cabins, just opposite from a national park with gorgeous animals, (kept it massive enclosures,) snowy walks, activities like snow mobiling and a restaurant. Because you’re in the middle of no where, it’s also a fantastic spot for Nothern Lights watching. You can’t plan for the Aurora, sometimes they come out and sometimes they don’t, but if you’re lucky enough to stay there over this insane show in the sky, this is the perfect place for that!! I have some posts all about where to stay and tips on whether to drive in Lapland, what to eat and so on, so have a look at the Lapland tab on the blog for more information on this if you’re interested!
We arrived fairly late on the first day so bought a bunch of food at a supermarket on the way, and drove to our accommodation. We were actually later than it said check in would be open, so rang ahead to double check but they kept everything open for us to check in which was seamless. (And necessary because otherwise we would’ve been stuck in our car in the snow, in the middle of no where haha!) As soon as we got to the cabin we were completely in awe of how stunning it was. All the cabins here are named after different animals, and we were given the Ahma (which is Finnish for the Wolverine – now one of my favourite animals as I got to see them for the first time on this holiday!) We ran around the cabin and looked at the sauna, the sleds leaned up outside, the pretty bedrooms, wooden features, and a huge kitchen with a table that seated 12 – the two of might not have needed so much room but oooh it just felt like luxury! We settled in and headed off out for a snowy walk the grounds; the whole place is set right next to a forest so there was a lot to see. We came back and tried out the sauna for the first time. (Seeing my dads glasses constantly fogging up gave me life to be honest, what a legend.) Saunas are in basically every accommodation in Lapland – and Finland as a whole really – and we ended up using it every single day. What can we say? We’re made for this sauna life!
As our cabin was set within a national park with a zoo, we decided to head out and explore this on our first full day. Most of the animals were snow-type animals so we got to see a lot we hadn’t seen before – so ruddy cute! The snow topping over all the trees was ridiculously beautiful, like something straight out of Narnia. We kept just staring at everything around us and saying how hard it was to let our brains think it was real – it was honestly like staring at a picture most of the time! I found out that Wolverines – whilst you might not want to get too close to them – are the bloody sweetest animals in the whole world and I just love them with my whole heart. A few tour groups came here in their hoards on buses, but they’d usually go past in big batches. As we weren’t pushed for time as we were staying about a 2 minute walk away from the entrance, we just let them all pass and took our time taking in the scenery and the animals.
We headed for food in our cabin and had a nap whilst watching films next to the real, roaring log fire. The place we stayed had a bunch of bookable activities, so in the evening we headed to the main reception building to book activities for the next day. We wanted to talk through the husky sled rides with them, as I knew I would love to do it, but wanted to check how often the huskies do it and ask questions about whether they enjoy it. (I can tell you for a fact now, they bloody love it!) As we were talking through the options, we noticed a snowmobile tour that was literally about to leave outside the reception building – so we decided to join then and there! We got kitted out in the thickest one-piece outfits and hopped on a snow mobile. This was definitely one of the highlights for me, I’d never done anything like snowmobiling before and it was WAY TOO fun! You absolutely have to do it in Lapland – and lots of the different holiday companies offer these so you will be spoilt for choice, wherever you stay. You’re allowed to go as fast as you like so I kept holding back from the group and speeding up as fast as I could to catch up – I have a need for speed what can I day! You can definitely build up some serious speed on these things, I would love to do it over a massive open space and take it to the limit.
The tour itself was supposed to be an Aurora tour to see the Nothern Lights, but given all the snow clouds we knew this wasn’t going to happen – it meant we stopped off by a frozen lake, lit a fire, and the people on the tour drank ciders and ate sausages. (I skipped on that part but really enjoyed the atmosphere.) As we were sat here for a while without the aurora showing her pretty green face, one of the tour leaders asked if we’d like to do a couple more routes on the snow mobiles whilst everyone else chilled – which of course we did! Not to put my dad down (love you pal,) but he was bloody terrible and slow as a snail so it ended up being only me driving ahhaa. They are odd, because they’re such massive machines and not the easiest to steer it doesn’t feel like you’re totally in control, but after a short while you get used to it and get speedy. (Other than my dad!) We definitely didn’t pressured to be speedy though, every one could take it at their own pace.
After we got back from the most spur of the moment and incredible tour, we hopped in the sauna, chatted about the day and headed in for the night. I can’t recommend trying something like this enough! If you’ve never done it before it really is one to add to the bucket list as it is such an experience. Plus if you’re the luckiest son of a gun in the world and get to see the Northern lights dancing away, you will probably never be able to top the moment!
We filled up the rest of our time going on a husky sled ride, sledding down hills, exploring the city of Rovaniemi and exploring the snowy land all around where we stayed. If you made it to the end of this post – you are amazing! I did not expect it to be quite so long but I just have SO much to say about this epic place! Check out the part two to see what else we did on this trip, along with our tour guides and tips for Lapland!!